On many occasions in my twenties, I’ve found myself at a table drinking a beer, surrounded by fresh and carved faces alike, forcing me to hear about the narrow road that runs to define millennials and our ability to love.
I hear these lines and I listen with recognition. I take a swig from my beer. The shadow story is a familiar one I’m accustomed to hearing, so much a part of us that my ears no longer flinch. The kinds of betrayal are themselves domesticated, they say, part of our technological lives infused with Instalikes and Snapchat captures. Living our life through a screen, we’re told, is not a life at all. After all, we don’t find Facebook in the romance novels, our noir dreams, or letters back home.
The idea itself is rather rebellious, too, a stage, a human evolution; the clandestine affair we have with social media brings us to identity and self-expression, admitting us to the lure of a second skin.
I keep quiet about my thoughts, often, because people need space for their own, or I myself, need to put words to them. This world sometimes has us feeling every pebble and rag on the journey that we lose ourselves in the technology around us – the elegant clarity of another world – but love, love in today’s world is present as ever.
We have an abundance of choice and freedom to discover ourselves and our partner. We find ourselves in relationships that are well-documented, yes, but there is always the silent current pulsing beneath moments shared on the glare of a screen. If you have found it then you know what I’m talking about and you can substitute your own terms. When you encounter another in that way, in that freedom, you find a piece that belongs with yours which stands out of texts and status updates. We all know we can’t break it down too much into the words we throw around on Twitter. Today, when we fall in love, it is less about duty, economic security, social obligations – it is seeing this eternal piece in another and having it seen in ourselves. Our bones draw us back to this ancient humanity. We know, every one of us, that what we feel for our lover, but that we can’t really talk about it. To do so would be to cheapen.
So we share our pictures, the snaps of our lives while living out a deeper sense of ourselves. Some of us live outside of the illusion of social media – admittedly, others don’t – but those who do enter deeper into the private world where we’re on a wider road, eyes wide open, and with them, our hearts – a life which has real stakes and somehow is far enough from diversion to find another way of moving through the world.
With the blinkers gone and the markers uncertain, each day confronts us with an opportunity to love. We can’t forever hide behind the screens of our lives, we may stumble into silence, and somehow it affects us with a fresh intensity. Texts have come and gone and fallen and risen, ceaselessly, and yet beneath all that, the mountain, the image of depth and love, the beauty of this ancient tale continues, quietly, to endure.